Shot In The Dark : (Part 16 of 18)
Shot In The Dark : (Part 16 of 18) postapocalyptic stories

ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Joe makes Finny promise.

Shot In The Dark : (Part 16 of 18)

Kirsten's face was set when she opened the study door.

Joe was at his desk, both files laid flat the desktop in front of him. He glanced up when the door opened and only relaxed when he saw that it wasn't Silja.

Joe lifted the thickest folder filched by Finny and slowly flipped through its contents.

Finny, for her part, stood in front of Joe's desk. Her hands clenched into fists behind her back and her whole tense posture, demonstrating that she was not sure if she was in trouble or not.

When the door opened, she turned to see who it was, and Kirsten caught the full extent of the little girl's anxiety.

Kirsten moved quietly to stand besides Finny and gave her shoulders a comforting squeeze. At the same time, her eyes flicked from Joe to the two folders, trying to understand what was going on.

Joe continued to read.

"Did you look inside these Finny?"

Finny could only see the top of Joe's head behind the folder he held open in front of him, but his question was ominous.

"I... Only the pictures. I only looked at the pictures of Silja when she was little."

"What about the other folder? This folder."

Finny shook her head vigorously, making the long, ragged pigtails dance. Then she realised that Joe couldn't see.

"No, Joe. Honest, I didn't look at it. Just the label on the front."

Joe lowered the folder just enough so that he could see Finny's face over the top.

"Finny. Do you remember what I once said to you about telling me the truth?"

Finny's eyes widened, and she tried to swallow but her mouth had dried up the moment she entered Joe's office.

This time the emphatic nodding left no doubt that Finny remembered that moment very well.

Kirsten put a heavily ringed hand on her hip, attracting Joe's attention. With eyes openly displaying her annoyance, she mouthed the words at him.

"Stop it! You're scaring her."

The two adults remained locked eye to eye for several long moments. It was Joe who broke eye contact. He turned to the eight-year-old.

"Finny." His voice had lost the edge it had held. "I'm not mad at you. You did a great job, you really did." Joe leaned across the desk.

He thought about trying a smile, but he knew how his smiles sometimes disconcerted the recipients, so didn't. "But it's really important that you don't tell Silja about this file.

" He lifted the blue folder slightly to make sure she knew it was the thick one he was talking about. "Not even the title... what was on the label, okay?"

Finny relaxed a little. Not being in trouble was a big thing when you were eight.

"Okay. I won't."

"Not even if she asks you?"

Finny crossed her heart with a grubby finger.

"I promise."

"Good girl." Joe sat up straight again. Talking to kids made his back ache. "Now bugger off and get something to eat off Silja."

Hearing her favourite words, Finny turned on her heel and would have been off if Kirsten hadn't grabbed her collar. Finny stopped dead with an exaggerated choking sound.

Kirsten looked down at Finny with an appraising eye.

"Then get her to run you a bath."

Finny's face fell.

"But it's only Wednesday."

The matriarchal eyebrow raised. Words were not needed. Finny hung her head.


Finny was released and pretty much ran from the study.

When the door closed, Kirsten turned to Joe.

"What the hell is going on, Joe? Why didn't you let Silja have the folder after all the effort? And what's in that other folder that Finny can't tell her about?

Joe stood up and, taking the folder with him, gestured Kirsten to join him on the chesterfield. He handed her the folder and went to pour drinks for them both.

"Do you remember Annie's birthday party?" He began, sitting next to her.

For the next hour, Joe and Kirsten went through the Ranyhyn Company's file on the events pertaining to the attempted kidnapping of their daughter.

The murder of the clown who was supposed to perform at the party and his replacement by one of the gang members, only for him to be shot before he could get near the orphanage.

Two other gang members, waiting near the orphanage in a van had been apprehended by Dwight Frye and ended up as 'Pooh Sticks', nonchalantly played by Dwight and Hanne.

One of these had been Silja's supposed boyfriend before ending up as a stain on some rocks below a bridge.

Kirsten and Joe looked at the picture of the boy. He was appealing in the way teenage girls found attractive. They exchanged a look.

"Poor Silja," Kirsten whispered.

Joe kept his peace.

The notes in Silja's sub-file made uncomfortable reading. Kirsten was shaking her head.

"Silja must never know about this. She would be devastated if she knew she had been spied on by her sister in such an intimate..." the rest of the sentence translated into a shudder.

Joe was in agreement, so much so that he had stopped reading as soon as the report went there. Instead, he turned his attention to the fourth sub-file and held up a photograph.

"So, who do we have here?"

The information was sketchy, and apparently insufficient to meet Hanne's criteria for being taken care of by the company.

Despite both of them searching the whole file over, there was no indication this person, this 'Mick Fischer', had met any kind of terminal fate.

It didn't take Joe a great leap of imagination to put himself in Fischer's shoes. You are part of a gang. A gang with a plan. The plan goes belly up, and your friends end up dead.

You aren't too smart. You want revenge. You get yourself a gun...

"Kirsten, my love," Joe sighed. "I think we may have found our shooter."

The following morning, Joe dropped off a scrubbed and fed Finny at the factory with dire threats against telling anyone, including the three mini hoodlums she hung about with,

anything about the last twenty-four hours.

Then, armed with selected parts of the Ranyhyn Company's folder on his daughter's attempted kidnapping, he and his well-paid lawyer went to pay inspector Crabbe a visit.

Back at home, Kirsten waited for Annie's nap before sitting Silja down. She presented her nanny with the folder Joe had slipped to her on his way out.

The other folder, the one Hanne had been using to blackmail Silja into returning to her father. They talked about the best thing to do with it and the information it contained.

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